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£54k fine after modified podium steps led to serious injury

A two metre fall has left a worker with fractured vertebrae after podium steps toppled over.

How did a recognised safe method of working at height result in life-changing injuries?

A worker was welding components on a site in Peterborough. In order to access the job he was required to work at height, and did so using a set of podium steps which had been taken from another factory. Unfortunately, while carrying out the work, the small work platform fell over, taking the worker with it. He was left with two fractured vertebrae. An HSE investigation found that London Tower Crane Hire & Sales Ltd had failed to follow its own internal procedures. It had not carried out a risk assessment or determined a safe system of work. Worse still, the steps had been modified contrary to the manufacturer’s instructions as incorrect feet had been added. Additionally, stabiliser bars had not been fitted as workers were not trained to use these correctly.

London Tower Crane Hire & Sales Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined £54,000 with £1,544 in costs.